Sunday, July 13, 2008

Substantive journalism on Meet the Press

I don't want to be wildly optimistic here. But Tom Brokaw has been doing the late Tim Russert's gig as host of Sunday's Meet the Press for three weeks now 2 episodes). And there has been more substantive discussions of policy issues than I recall ever hearing on Russert's programs combined.

Let's hope this continues and improves. The last segment of the show continues to features the Biffs and Heathers of our "press corps" reciting their script and speculating wildy and mostly mindlessly about horse-race issues. Brokaw certainly hasn't fixed that part yet.

But the lead segments are better than what I ever remember seeing on Russert. A major test is coming next week when Al Gore is scheduled to be his guest. We'll see if the interview is cluttered with questions about whether Al Gore invented the Internet or if Naomi Wolf counsels him on how to be a man. If he can pull off a substantive segment without the Chris Matthews kind of nonsense with Al Gore, I'll begin to think he intends to do serious journalism while he's there.

Here are links to the Brokaw Meet the Press transcripts for the last two episodes:

07/13/08: 'Meet the Press' transcript for July 13, 2008, first segment featuring Carly Fiorina and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), as respective surrogates for the McCain and Obama campaigns

06/29/08: 'Meet the Press' transcript for July 13, 2008, first segment featuring Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA), Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D-WY), Gov. Bill Ritter (D-CO)

On the 07/13/08 program, Brokaw pressed both Fiorina and McCaskill on various points. He even called McCain's representative Fiorina saying something downright idiotic:

MS. FIORINA: the way, outside of Washington, where this is an interesting parlor game, I think most Americans are not really focused on what a bunch of surrogates are saying. They're focused on what the candidates are saying. I was in town hall meetings with John McCain all week. Not one question about Phil Gramm. Not one question.

MR. BROKAW: Well, with all due respect, we have you here as surrogates, and we hope that America is paying attention to what you have to say because the campaign is on a broad front. (my emphasis)

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